Me and Charlie Chaplinís ghost

 

 

1

 

Lifeís ironies twist in my stomach like a knife.

Iím a fish being gutted to cook in someoneís emotional chowder

And the idea makes me puke.

 

Everybody tells me how nothing lasts forever, especially love.

The pain does, I tell them.

 

I still feel towards my lover like I always did,

But not she hates me for it.

If I didnít feel so bad at losing her, I would laugh.

 

Iím a sucker for sit-coms and slap stick

Except when Iím the guy who gets cheated on

Or the man who doesnít see the banana peel on the street

And falls on my face.

 

I havenít got the hang of seeing lovers come and go.

I think each one is it and plan on an eternity together,

You know, all that muck greeting cards sell

 

When love fails, Iím crushed.

And thereís not a damned thing I co do

Except to roll up in front of the boob tube

With a tub of rocky road ice cream

And dull my senses on old movies

 

Yet each time I catch Charlie Chaplinís tramp

And know deep down

Heís me.

 

 

2

 

The road from here to there

Is a convoluted mess

Littered with years of

Going back and forth

My footsteps wearing a path so deep

I get swallowed up in it

 

The reason for my trek

Lost years ago among the weeds

Reeds and rubbish

 

I feel seat breezes

And hear the waves

I step across sand

That turns tan with the

Occasional drip of my blood

 

Sometimes I see myself

As a sinful bull

Whose soul purpose

Of coming and going

Is to satisfy myself

 

Those times when I dig too deep

I actually feel ashamed

Most times, I do not think at all

My feet the only thoughts

Each step drumming

Out all other sounds in my head

 

So all I have is

The coming and the going

And the road from

Here to there.

 

 

3

 

I have abused the colors of my life

Painting my living roach couch blue

And the floor beneath it, red

A baroque Christmas

For family members who are not here

The globs of pain as vivid

As Christmas ornaments

While streaks of dripped brush stokes

Make for mocking tinsel

 

The room, perhaps, is a self portrait,

Of what I feel inside,

That me who perpetually

Misbehaves while my parents are away

My message to them

Over their perpetual neglect

Each drip like a drop of blood

As if I had cut their throats

And used their blood for paint,

With me sitting on the only

Uncolored chair in the room

Admiring my own handiwork.

 

 

4

 

I dream about dead poets

As I drive along the river side

In my daily routine of coming and going

Humming pop tunes to the radio

As sunlight strobes across my eyes

Through tall reeds and purple red weed

Wordsworth from high school

Intrudes when I stop at the light,

Recited phrases ticking off the time

Until the light turns green,

The clock tower bellowing its harmony

Along with the factory whistles

My mind shaping the tap of

My bossí impatient foot

Or the click of his fingernails

On the top of the time clock

Asking why Iím late again

Refusing to accept the excuse

Wordsworth made me do it.

 

 

5

 

Iím not laughing because Iím happy,

My laugh echoing

In the chamber of horrors inside my head,

Like a madmanís.

I want to be circumspect

A cool customer with calm composure

Grinning in the face of adversity

When the best I can muster

Is this laugh

When deep down, behind it all,

Iím crying.

But even the tears arenít real,

Bits of glitter self pity creates

To fill some void I canít explain

I have worn so many masks for so long

Iíve forgotten which face is my face

When I try to take them off,

Misplacing the real me in a pile of strange faces

I know arenít me.

I used to believe love was a flower

Diminished when the last petal fell off

So that each rendition of that old daisy

Kidís song was a torture to me,

She loves me

She loves me love

She killed love with the last pluck

I remember walking a garden grove

With you once

Where cherry blossom petals flowed

Around our feet

You saw them as a flood of love

I saw them as loveís bleeding

I still canít look a rose in the eye without blinking

Or thinking of the day I tried

†to save our love with a rose

Petals pour off and onto my hands

As I handed the rose to you.

I always annoyed you

By loving autumn colors

Even when I knew leaves red now

Eventually turned to brown

You annoyed me by pressing flowers

Between the pages of my favorite books

Preserving them so I never know exactly

When Ė if at all Ė they were dead.

A dead leave at least looks dead when it dies

This, of course, always amazed you most

My seeing dead things before they have lived

Summer love in fall

Spring blossoms rotting

Thunder storms never scared me so much

As spreading grass see.

I always see the brown remains of dead grass

Before the grass as time to grow.

Even on the beach we disagreed

For you the waves always washed in

While for me they always washed away.

While rainy days cheered me

Because I knew they would never last,

Sunny days depressed me for the same reason

Yet my logic came unlatched that day

You told me good bye

No sunny or rainy days to come and go

No waves to flow in or out,

Only petals falling on my cheeks

Withering there without you.

 

6

 

For all I do I still feel

Like a leaf trapped in ice,

Kicking myself for that last chance

To flee when fallís winds

Still blew

 

Perhaps I miss summer

Or mistook Indian summer

For my glory days of green

 

I see my veins reflected

In the Smokey cold around me

Rain and snow dripping over me

With no sunshine to warm me

As it once did

 

Some say there is life after dead,

A thaw after the frost

But I donít feel it

Or believe I can hold on so long

To see the sun beat down on me

As it once did,

Nor believe I can ever

See myself grow green again

 

 

7

 

I keep thinking the world ends here

This bit of spilled ink

As my last drop of blood

I keep waiting for the earthquake, the asteroid,

Or the world war that never was,

I keep seeking rising oceans or growing deserts

To drown me or dry me out

I keep hearing the sound

Of my own voice

Droning on and on

About how much

I have not yet done.

 

When young,

I feared heartache,

Now I dread the attack on my heart,

Waiting, waiting,

Yet not knowing

For what.

 

 

8

 

You never quite know

What might show

When those red lids open

 

The lost, losing dilated eyes

I last saw in the late 1960s

Full of worry and political slogans

Full of hope I no longer feel

 

I sit on a loose seat

On the uptown subway

Wishing for a screw driver

To stop the squeak

My cheeks vibrated

Into the same numbness

My head already feels

 

The sound track,

The announcerís voice

Laying out my lifeís routines

Amid static and curse words

With me unable to tell

If my stopís next.

 

 

9

 

She wanted to know if I really was

A hippie when I was young

And if I was, she wanted to fuck me.

She would have fucked Jimi Hendrix

But she was only ten when he died

This makes her 21 now

Although she still looks 16.

This is the reason all rock & roll boys love her

She never fails to love them back,

In fact, she makes love like a crack addict

full of rage and religion

Raised on the alter of 1960s nostalgia

She was too young to experience for herself

Sucking the marrow out of bones

Of men like me

Giving new meaning to names like

Cream and Deep Purple

Her eyes growing wide as if I was

Always the drug she needed.

 

 

10

 

If I dream a dream of beauty

I think of you

A word that kisses leaves

With fragrant leaves

Of air so drenched with love

It drips

 

When stars shine stark

In a winter sky

I know each has a heart

Of heat so intense

No frost can freeze it

No ice can seize me

As to make me

Forget you

 

I have always been a prospector

A gold digger hunting treasures

In remote soil,

Pounding down rock in search of wealth,

Heartless in my need and greed

After mistaking

The glitter of trivial

For something real

 

At night, when horror strikes

I still cringe under cover

As wolves howl and cold winds

Chill all I expose

My limbs suffering

The frost bite of life

 

Each important person and thing

Dropping away from me

As I pound away at nothing

Stones crumbling at my feet

My greed so gripping my heart

I sometimes forget you

Each chip of stone

A piece of me

Worn down into dust

By foolishness and pain,

And yet,

I still think of you.

 

 

 


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